Speaking to reporters earlier this week to clarify his stand on the United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia, President Donald Trump remarked that his presidency has actually cost him a substantial “fortune” through the “deals” he does for his country.
As recapped by RealClearPolitics, Trump’s comments were made shortly before he left for Florida for Thanksgiving, as he talked about how he is prioritizing the United States by choosing not to sever ties with Saudi Arabia over journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s alleged murder. He said that he doesn’t want to jeopardize the U.S. economy “by being foolish” with Saudi officials, and denied accusations that he is earning money through business deals with the Middle Eastern country.
“And I will tell you, and as most of you know, being president has cost me a fortune,” Trump told reporters.
“And that’s okay with me. I knew that a long time ago. But being president has cost me a fortune; a tremendous fortune like you’ve never seen before, but at — some day I’ll tell you what that is. But — and I knew that a long time ago because I don’t do deals [for personal benefit].”
Trump added that the deals he does make are for the benefit of the United States and that he chooses not to “make great deals” for himself because he no longer cares about personal gain.
"Trump not only pardoned the Thanksgiving turkey, he also pardoned the crown prince, to the detriment of US interests and values," Aaron David Miller writes of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, via @CNNOpinion https://t.co/mXm6mvdRqU— CNN (@CNN) November 22, 2018
As he continued answering questions from reporters, Trump continued his defense of Saudi Arabia, emphasizing that he won’t tell a “country that’s spending hundreds of billions of dollars” to stop doing business with the U.S., especially with oil prices currently in “great shape.” The president repeatedly mentioned the phrase “America first” in his interview as justification for his decision not to condemn Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi’s death.
Despite Donald Trump’s claims that being president has cost him a lot of money and his denial of the allegations that he has personally profited through his deals with Saudi Arabia, an op-ed from Vox’s Matthew Yglesias suggested the opposite, writing that there’s “something weird” about Trump’s relationship with the country.
Aside from citing statements Trump made about Saudi Arabian clients being good for his real estate business before he became president, Yglesias accused Trump of continuing to earn money from the Saudi government since taking office. He cited statistics from August that claimed the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan experienced a 13 percent jump in revenue in the first quarter of 2018 after “two straight years of decline.” Citing a letter obtained by the Washington Post, Yglesias wrote that a “last-minute visit” Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made to New York was allegedly instrumental in driving the revenue increase.